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Best Burger

Madison Square Park; opens for the season in April

Since the debut of Danny Meyer's Shake Shack last summer, the Great Gourmet Burger Movement of the past several years has seemed awfully silly-like a giant shoulder-padded suit with its sleeves rolled up, circa 1988. Big, frilly, and fancy-bunned, after all, is no way for a burger to go through life. The Shake Shack burger, on the other hand, is smallish, modestly appointed, and unassuming. A thing of simple beauty swaddled in a wax-paper jacket, it's a bit of a throwback, more West Coast casual (think In-N-Out or Taylor's Refresher) than East Coast showy. The beef-a mix of sirloin and brisket freshly ground across the street at Meyer's Eleven Madison Park-is loosely packed to allow all those tasty fat molecules to move around freely and express themselves on the griddle, and then served on a squishy, supermarket-style bun that quickly becomes one with the juicy, crisp-edged meat. As for extras and condiments, there is everything the burger classicist needs: ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, and American cheese. No Kobe. No foie gras. No knife and fork necessary-just an alfresco table, a bunch of napkins, and a frozen custard alongside. Pretty much burger heaven.

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